In the first of a new eight-part series, Computer Weekly brings you the finalists in each category of the British Computer Society IT Professional Awards
The past few years have been particularly bruising for the IT industry. The dotcom bubble burst and the global economy nose-dived, prompting most organisations to scale back IT spending.
Some commentators are questioning the value of investment in technology and there is a long-running debate on how IT departments should align themselves with the needs of the business.
As a result, IT decision-makers often find they have to defend their spending and justify every penny of their budgets more rigorously than ever before.
Computer Weekly believes it is increasingly important for the UK IT profession to trumpet its achievements. Whether in the public or private sector, IT departments are integral to the success of UK companies.
The British Computer Society IT professional awards, regarded as the Oscars of the IT industry, have been celebrating excellence in IT for 30 years through economic peaks and troughs.
Computer Weekly is proud to support this year's BCS awards, which take place at a glittering London ceremony. The winners of each category will be announced and their awards will be presented before an audience of more than 700 IT professionals and other VIP guests on Wednesday 24 September at the Hilton Park Lane Hotel in London.
This year's awards have been revamped to showcase the best in UK IT and, over the next two months, Computer Weekly's management section will count down to the awards and outline the shortlisted entries.
The judges have been drawn from representatives of the BCS award sponsors, industry, the business press and other practitioners of equivalent status with extensive experience relevant to the category.
This year, for the first time, the BCS has added a range of individual award categories that recognise the exemplary performance of individuals in diverse roles in the IT profession.
There are 19 categories, divided into business achievement, technology and individual awards. Individual awards categories include young ITpractitioner of the year and IT developer of the year.
The technology category is split into four areas: applications, services, systems and social contributions, although there will be one overall winner. Business achievements will be split into industry sectors, also with one overall winner.
One of the most high-profile of the new individual award categories is the IT Director of the Year award. This award recognises outstanding achievement in a senior IT management role reporting to the board.
As well as the need to demonstrate a deep understanding of IT issues, judges will be looking for excellent people-management skills, commitment to training and development, planning ability, financial acumen and a contribution to strategy and the general management of the organisation.
"All the finalists excel in their ability to understand the needs of the business and can communicate how IT can address these needs at board level," said David Rippon, chairman of the judging panel. "Their achievements show how directors are embracing the business dimension of their role."
Jonathan Cummings, director of e-business at the Institute of Directors, said, "The need to further highlight excellence in professional standards is key to enabling UK business to grow and develop."
"Sustainability relies on three core factors: people, processes and technology. The IT director is a vital part of most organisations and plays a fundamental role in implementing strategies that enable all three to work together successfully."
For more information about the awards, contact Nisha Mukhey
About the BCS IT Professional Awards
For more than 30 years the BCS has recognised outstanding achievement in UK IT through its IT Awards and its separate Management Awards programme, established in the early 1990s.
This year the two sets of awards have been brought together to form the IT Professional Awards, which are supported by Computer Weekly. The BCS plans to make its awards the definitive awards for IT.
The intention is to create a single, high-profile event to reflect and celebrate the nation's IT industry as a leading global player.
"The BCS IT Awards for Excellence and Innovation and the equally important BCS Management Awards recognise the respective roles of ingenuity and managerial skills in enhancing IT to increase business efficiency and improve customer service," said BCS chief executive David Clarke.
"The BCS has decided to bring these two significant events together in a single annual ceremony. This, I believe, will generate even greater recognition of UK IT achievement.
"The BCS IT Professional Awards will underline one of the BCS' key roles, which is to nurture and applaud the individual ingenuity and entrepreneurial success that have made the nation's IT industry a leading global player.
"They will also mark the vital contribution made by the IT profession to the economy and to business and public services.
"These awards have established an unrivalled reputation for integrity, thoroughness of judging processes and high standards. To win a BCS award has always been regarded as a pinnacle of achievement."
Finalists for IT director of the year
John White, Royal Bank of Scotland Following the acquisition of NatWest Bank by the Royal Bank of Scotland, finalist John White, director of group technology at Royal Bank of Scotland Group, led a 3,000-strong workforce to successfully deliver the IT integration of the two banks ahead of target and with enhanced annual savings.
Karl North, Hilton UK & Ireland Karl North, director of IT at hotel group Hilton UK & Ireland, was instrumental in delivering a £6m Oracle financial system on time and within budget and also achieved more than £2m of savings through supplier rationalisation and contract renegotiation. Alongside results, he focuses on improving the perception of IT and ensuring the business sees IT as "adding value, not cost".
David Ebbitt, PremierLine Direct The experience of David Ebbitt from Premier Line Direct illustrates how IT directors are taking a key role in shaping new business. Launched last year as the first direct insurer for UK small businesses, the successful development and implementation of effective IT systems was critical to PremierLine Direct, which has already attracted 8,500 customers.
Keith Nicholson, MacRoberts Solicitors Keith Nicholson, formerly of MacRoberts Solicitors and now an independent consultant, developed and implemented strategic IT initiatives with robust information security to the BS7799 standard, giving the firm new online services and a competitive advantage in the sector.
ComputerWeekly will feature finalists from the following awards:
Young IT Practitioner of the Year, sponsored by Brodeur Worldwide
IT Trainer of the Year
IT Consultant of the Year
Quality Manager of the Year, sponsored by Mercury Interactive
Business Analyst of the Year
IT Developer of the Year - Applications, sponsored by the DTI
IT Developer of the Year - Infrastructure, sponsored by Intersystems
Marval IT Service Manager of the Year
Lifetime Achievement Award, sponsored by Syntegra.